By bappaditya paul
Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s ambition to position the party as a pan-India entity has suffered a major setback as 45 out of the 46 Lok Sabha candidates that she fielded outside West Bengal have lost their security deposits.
Percentage wise, 99.50 per cent of the Trinamul candidates outside Bengal got their security deposit forfeited. The only Trinamul candidate to have managed to save the deposit is Chamra Linda, who contested from the Lohardaga Lok Sabha seat in Jharkhand.
Every candidate fighting a Lok Sabha poll is required to deposit Rs 25,000 (Rs 12,500 in case of SC/ST) with the Election Commission as security. The deposit money is forfeited if a contestant fails to secure 1/6 of the total valid votes; NOTA votes are not calculated for the purpose.
Barring one, none of the remaining 45 Trinamul candidates succeeded in fetching 1/6 of the valid votes in their respective constituencies. Some of them have even polled humiliatingly low votes in prestigious seats.
Yesteryear Bengali matinee idol, Biswajit Chatterjee, tops the list; contesting from the New Delhi Lok Sabha segment on a Trinamul ticket. He secured only 909 votes. Next is leading women rights activist Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury who has polled only 803 votes in a South Delhi seat. The party candidates’ bag in the other seats in Delhi is also very low, in North East Delhi it is 784 votes, in Chandni 3531 and in East Delhi 3894.
The party did no better in the Left bastions of Kerala and Tripura, where the Trinamul had fielded candidates in three and two seats, respectively. In Kerala, Trinamul candidates again scored a humiliating 828 votes in Palakkad, 632 in Kasaragod and 1236 in Pathanamthitta. In Tripura East seat the party candidate has bagged 77,028 votes and in Tripura West seat a little over 1.17-lakh votes.
In the prestigious Rae Barely seat in Uttar Pradesh where the Trinamul had pitted Ms Anju Singh against Mrs Sonia Gandhi, the party candidate has got 3507 votes. In Varanasi, fighting against giants like Mr Narendra Modi and Mr Arvind Kejriwal, the Trinamul candidate Ms Indira Tiwari has polled only 2674 votes.
The story is same in all the 13 states or union territories outside Bengal where the Trinamul Congress had fielded candidates this Lok Sabha polls.
The party had fielded 13 candidates in Uttar Pradesh, nine candidates in Assam, five each in Delhi and Jharkhand, three in Kerala, two each in Tripura and Manipur, and one each in Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Maharastra, Goa, Odisha and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report first appeared in The Statesman on 18 May 2014.)